1) Naturally, one should always start in the bathroom area of one’s flat. That is where most other people who are cost saving start, never mind the big ticket items such as cars, washing machines, computers, etc. In our flat’s bathroom a more appropriate term would be “Water Closet” because it is as big as a closet. I have a foot high metal holder for toilet paper, towelettes, spray. I bought this at the Green Market and not the barahoka, so you KNOW it is stellar quality. Mind you, not manufactured in China. I also have the kind of spongy matting (forest green) that people use in bathrooms, imported from Germany and of very good quality. Again, not made in China which is a major selling point made often by Green Market sellers. Okay, I dislike bathroom humor so thankfully this part is over with, moving on…
2) These next items are for our truly “green thumb” shoppers. The next place to look in order to save money for us is to sell all my plants. When I first arrived to our flat that my husband had secured over a year and a half ago, the whole place was devoid of the color green. I LOVE green (especially our old style American dollars) so I made short work of a trip to Ramstor just a block away and I bought 10 green plant holders, potting soil and the requisite GREEN plants. For some reason I have many “Mother-in-laws tongue” plants that seem to proliferate. So, not to use the ubiquitous “mother-in-law” jokes that abound in the former Soviet Union, I will refrain from writing any more. Just know that my 14 + plants are healthy, they make our “World Class Flat” a home.
3) For those of you who observe Christmas as a holi-day, I also have a collapsible Christmas tree for sale. This has many fond memories attached to it having celebrated two Christmases with us here in Kazakhstan. This tree I bought at the Green Market and is from Poland so you KNOW it is of top notch craftsmanship. It stands less than a meter high when on a box and I will throw in the twinkling lights to the highest bidder.
4) Apparently, we had our place newly remonted, meaning we had a European style remont which means absolutely NOTHING was on the walls, just whitish wall paper. I suppose I prefer that over the gauche red carpets one sees in packed in living rooms and overly stuffed book shelves of outdated books in Russian printed in Moscow in the 1960s. Yes, with bare walls, I could actually be creative with using pictures of my own taste to fit our color scheme of blue, purple, tan, beige, red and off orange linoleum. So I quickly bought 14 frames at the big Tsum department store, matted the pictures off our old Carl Larsson and Terry Redlin big calendars and asked my hubby to drill the nails into the wall. (I found out later that these @ 18 inch by 20 inch frames were much cheaper at the Green Market) Of course, the walls on our “World Class Flat” are patently secure with a 6 inch thickness of concrete so my dear husband went through many drill bits on some of our more fortified walls. In any case, I will eventually sell all 14 frames and it will be of no extra cost to you, dear smart shopper, if you actually LIKE the pictures I matted under the glass and in the frames.
5) One of my prized, big ticket items is a small CASIO keyboard. It has more keys than the person at Housing who strenuously requests all foreigners to give over an extra set of apartment keys for “our protection.” Well, maybe not, I counted my piano keys and it is short two octaves of the 88 keys that a full sized piano would have. However, it does have all the bells and whistles you could possibly want to make it sound like an accordion or a trumpet, ad naseum. Me, I just prefer electronic pianos with an on and off switch, but this one also runs on battery.
6) Another item is my HP LaserJet 1018 printer that has an extra filled print cartridges. It runs like a top. Well, it should, it was purchased so we could continue to do our jobs at home while we are away from our office computer and printer. My husband and I buy our own reams of paper so that cannot account for the high erosion of paper that is lost by our university. You find these things out when we are told to not use as much paper. You see, they too are only trying to cut corners to save money where it really adds up!!! That goes for number 1 above, we buy our own toilet paper at Ramstor. I can’t even imagine anyone embezzling toilet paper at our university except maybe impoverished college students.
7) Finally, we also have the usual toaster, crock pot (from the U.S.), juicer, upscale hot pots for heating water necessary for any post-Soviet kitchen. When the apartment complex heat is eventually turned off we have the SEVEN oil filled heater that will have to be sold along with heater fans to keep ones feet warm under one’s desk. We have a boom box that uses both tapes and CDs.
8. I will give away music CDs, what is left of my DVD and video collection, my textbooks and reading books to those people I count as friends and important colleagues. I may even have a phrase book or two in English on how to properly use Jesus Christ’s name rather than using it profanely.
This fine tuning we MUST do in order to pay back our credit card company and to run our “World Class Flat” more effectively, until we leave on cordial terms with our landlady, of course. I’m truly grateful we have things to sell and not have to sell ourselves. Unfortunately, some Central Asians have been forced to sell themselves into slavery due to their dire and grim circumstances. (please read “Two Kyrgyz Women” to get perspective) Others have, perhaps, sold their souls.